FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Lehigh got off to a great start early in the game, but couldn’t overcome a double-digit second-half deficit as the Mountain Hawks (0-3) fell 68-51 to Sacred Heart (3-0) Wednesday. Junior Sarah Pearce and senior Alexa Williams paced Lehigh with 13 points and seven rebounds each as Williams picked up her third-straight game in double figures. .
“We played better in spurts, those first seven minutes were the best we played all year,” said head coach Sue Troyan. “We are just trying to find consistency and we just need to continue playing and getting better game-by-game which is what we are doing.”
Lehigh had its best shooting performance of the season as the Mountain Hawks were 20-for-56 from the field for a 36 percent clip but Sacred Heart caught fire and shot 51 percent on 27-for-53 from the field.
Lehigh got out to a quick lead, up 13-0 just four minutes into the game with Pearce accounting for five of those points. After struggling from the outside in the previous two games, the Mountain Hawks were 5-for-10 from the field and 2-for-4 from behind the arc in the early going.
Sacred Heart responded with a 9-0 run of its own as Lehigh led 15-11 with 11:50 to go in the half.
The Mountain Hawks were holding a 21-18 lead with eight minutes to go but the Pioneers started to pick up the pace and went on a 14-2 run as Lehigh trailed 32-23 with 4:21 left in the half.
At halftime the Mountain Hawks were down 40-31 with Pearce leading the way at the break with nine points on 4-for-6 shooting. Lehigh shot 36 percent (13-for-36) while Sacred Heart shot 56 percent (15-for-27). While the Mountain Hawks struggled from behind the arc, they were keeping themselves in the games thanks to a 20-16 rebound advantage including 12-5 on the offensive glass.
Sacred Heart extended its lead early in the second half as Lehigh trailed 50-36 with 15:26 to go as the Pioneers led by as many as 18 with 13:02 to go. But then the Mountain Hawks found some easy baskets as they were 5-for-9 halfway through the second half as Lehigh hoped to cut the deficit to single digits.
The Mountain Hawks picked up their aggressiveness on the offensive end and it paid off as Lehigh was in the bonus for the final 12:40 of the game. The Mountain Hawks used that to their advantage as they went to the line 12 times after getting to the charity stripe just three times in the first half.
Lehigh trailed 64-51 with 3:50 left in the game and had a couple opportunities to make a run but the Mountain Hawks couldn’t take advantage after they got a couple defensive stops.
Freshman Katie O’Reilly was the third Lehigh played to grab seven rebounds as the Mountain Hawks ended the game with the edge on the offensive glass 14-7.
Sacred Heart was led by Callan Taylor who had 22 points, 14 in the first half as Taylor also added 15 rebounds and four steals. The Pioneers also had a trio of other players in double figures.
After being on the road for its first three games, Lehigh will return to Stabler Arena for its home opener Saturday at 7 p.m. against Saint Peter’s. Tickets for all home games are now on sale and may be purchased on Lehighsports.com or by calling the ticket office at (610)-7LU-Game.